By CLIFFORD PETERSON
Former Town of Whitestown Chairman
In reference to the Feb. 7 edition of the County Line regarding the funds from the Ho-Chunk Nation:
Here is a little history of the situation for new people and a review for the rest.
Before the Ho-Chunk began to pay its gambling contract to the county, they were paying $100 per acre to Whitestown and Stark in lieu of taxes on a five-year agreement.
At the end of that agreement, the townships held several meetings with the Ho Chunk to establish a new agreement.
At the last meeting, the Ho-Chunk told us something was coming that would please us.
Shortly after, we learned the gaming contracts with the state had been renegotiated, with funds set at $1,000 per acre to be paid to the county. The Ho-Chunk believed the funds should stay where their land was located, not be sent to Madison.
In my opinion, it went to the county primarily because a county-association representative was at the meeting. It is possible that had a township-association representative been there, it would have gone to the townships.
When Vernon County realized they had received a $1.2 million windfall ($1,000 per acre for the 1,200 acres of Ho-Chunk land in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve), we met with them and told them about the groundwork we had done to make this possible.
Because both townships had lost a great deal of tax base due to the failed La Farge dam project, they agreed to give $100 per acre to Stark and Whitestown for the reserve land within their borders.
Additionally, the first year, each township received $100,000.
The funds have been crucial in helping the towns deal with the tax loss.
It is hoped this agreement stays in place until a new agreement is made between the Nation and the State of Wisconsin.